Monday, April 27, 2015

Old Dominon No Frills success!

Tesla and I have been working hard throughout April to find our rhythm, fix tack and get boots ready for our first AERC ride on 4/25.

We have had lots of ups and downs - including going out alone and taking a short trail ride at the barn with no issues.  We used our new vipers then too and made a little adjustment to the fit.  We went back to my HAF saddle pad and didn't have the wonky feeling at the trot anymore... We found a bit that works for both of us (Myler combo) and just finally "got it together" on Tuesday the week of the ride!  Thanks to my friend and barn owner, and fellow Green Bean Amanda, and her mom, they watched us work together in the ring and gave me suggestions and a few tweaks that really helped Tesla & I click. 
He had a few tying lessons too and has gotten much better about the dancing for grooming/tacking up.

The 'new' trailer needed adjustments too!  We got all that fixed up just in time but I didn't have time to insulate the sleeping area before the trip.  So glad I won't have any more cold nights for a while! I had to give in and stay in a friend's rig the 2nd night since my hot hands and multiple layers of clothing and bedding just weren't cutting it!
all loaded up, just waiting on Tesla
So here's how the weekend went:
I took Friday off work...New horse, new rig, I didn't want to feel rushed to get to the ride even though it was only 2hrs away...With my checklists in hand, I packed up the truck and trailer and was ready to load up Tesla at 1030am.  I was alone, so this took about an hour to get him on - BUT I'm happy we did it together.  It has previously taken hours, even with help. He is not a fan of getting up there by his lonesome, but we learned through it and made it on the road about 11:50am.  A little behind my desired schedule, but still plenty of time!

We got ourselves to camp and Tesla settled into the corral.  I set it up off my trailer to get him as much room as possible. Used step ins at just about every juncture.  He did not push on it or put his head through so I never had to get the netting out to run around it.  My bungee cords came in handy for sure!  Between getting the panels to stay in place in the truck bed around the GN hitch and then tying off to the trailer and other items they got lots of use!

The camp is on an incline just about everywhere, such a weird feeling with your head low on a mattress!  I survived Fri night in the trailer, but I was cold!  Didn't help that half the hot hand warmers I pulled out didn't work!  I should have borrowed Amanda's buddy heater, but didn't think about that before hand.

Fri eve I put his boots on to get 'ahead' in the morning... I had a slight issue with a twisting boot so I messaged our dealer and she suggested loosening it a little before the ride.  Well, fumble fingers here lost a set screw! I went running around and found someone with extra Renegades I could bum a screw off for the ride. FEW!  I packed up our adjusting tool in our saddle bags just in case I needed it at a vet check.

see my pretty red vipers to match my halter?
 Saturday morning was lots of commotion...55 mile riders go out a bit earlier than us, so horses start getting antsy as they see their neighbors disappear.  Tesla wasn't very interested in breakfast but ate well when we took our walk.  Tacked up with little dancing, added our crupper and rump rug.  We walked around, had a few minor melt downs I would call them... The horses right next to the gate to leave camp were running and calling making it hard on the greener horses mentally, but we found Roberta and Bibi and were able to work through it.  Roberta is my mentor, her horse Bibi was just coming off a series of injuries so she was riding the 30 instead of 55 so we got to go down the trails together :)  Bibi is also a fairly green horse to endurance but she and Tesla did great leap-frogging down the trails and riding well together.
Leaving camp - photo Becky Pearman Photography

up the trails on the first loop -photo Becky Pearman Photography

Not too far in we were joined by another friend I met at Iron Mountain and have kept in touch with via email after re-meeting at Bull Run fun ride in Sept, April and her guy Piper.  We had a great little group heading down the trails of pretty much all green beans in some manner (horse and/or rider) joining up with a few more on the ridge line.  Tesla snapped a boot off along that ridge line, and I was worried we were going to get pulled at the vet check as the ride requires boots or shoes on all 4.  We got the vet check and to the surprise of our ride vet, Tesla was completely sound and told us we could continue on as is!  I had the ride farrier put front shoes on, as we found a crack at his trim on the Monday before the ride that our farrier wanted to shoe for but didn't have time to that day and said we'd be fine at No Frills in boots...

So another first for Tesla, first set of shoes!  John Crandall was great at teaching Tesla patience about it. He had one melt down and fought with John but they worked it out and the second hoof/shoe went much easier.

So most of the 1st vet check was spent at the farrier, but we had wonderful volunteers to take care of us. Tesla got fed, I got fed and the all important potty break. We had a few more minutes to relax and then head out on the second loop.  He gobbled up grain and hay and drank well.  All A's on the card.

Tesla had a few bucks/kick-outs at the canter on the first loop I thought were related to the crupper... so we loosened that more at the vet check... They continued in the beginning of the 2nd loop but we worked it out and then had a super nice easy canter on the grass area.  He was really responsive on his speed as he did want to chase down the horses in the distance but would slow up when asked.  The other tack issue we had was that he kept flipping the rump rug off the right...since it had warmed up a bit, we cinched it up to keep it out the way and I will try a more forward tie on spot to keep it from doing that in future.

Heading out on the 2nd loop -photo Becky Pearman Photography

Probably only 3 miles in to that loop, we had an issue with a back boot.  AH!  I pulled off both back boots and went on barefoot in the back. Now with tons of stuff hanging off the saddle and stuffed in the packs...I know Tesla has good feet, but was being a little more careful to make sure he stayed sound so would get our completion.  He did awesome, passed the trot out on the 2nd hold gate & go, and we went on for the final bit to the finish line!  That long gravel road was tiring, mentally and physically for me. He has a powerhouse trot, but posting for that long I am sure sore!  We made it in to the vet check 20th overall (our ride # was 20 too!), CRI 44/44, all A's, and sound.  Art (awesome vet who comes in from Canada to be at our rides!) said Tesla is going to make a me a great endurance horse.
Post ride hay/grain before the cold rain started

I'm so happy I held out on meeting him at Aubree's.  Can't ride a color, but he was my dream horse and I'm so happy with him!  Our bond will just continue to grow and I feel like we are so much more in sync now. Looking forward to making a Decade Team with him :)

Lessons learned:
Work on loading up alone more
Insulate the trailer, get a heater
Don't change things right before a ride and have a spare boot!
Need some rain pants for those wet cold days
Remember that I keep an extra pair of boots for me in the trailer when current ones are cold and wet!
Don't come to a ride on old shoes (the one pull on the LD was one of our friends with a Perch/cross that came up lame after losing a shoe on the first loop - she was hoping it would last this ride)
Rump rugs need to be tied further up to prevent "flipping"
A crupper that is too loose will come off the tail all together :P (happened at the very end of the ride at least)
Rump rugs need to be tied forward on the saddle or some means to keep it from going off to one side.
Waterproof gloves and boots still get soaked!

Now we have until June before the next AERC ride... but we'll be heading out for a fun ride at the end of May too for camping and mileage :)

Looking good on Monday night
I'm sure Tesla could have done the on the other hand, I need more conditioning rides to get in shape for that much trotting!

Happy post treat hello on Monday

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Making Lemonade

It's been a few weeks since I posted last - we've had a few good rides, got our new vipers, and got a new to me 99 CM trailer!

We've had better luck using the Myler Combo bit and I went back to my HAF pad under the saddle... Tried a matrix pad too and buying one for our aspirations to 50s :)

Today, however, was a lemon!
I had plans to go for a training ride in the mountains, then that ride was changed to Sunday which I could no longer go to, so I hooked up for a ride at our local trails...
I was a bundle of nerves - hooking up to my new trailer for the first time ever, and alone!  Let alone getting Mr. I Hate To Load aka Tesla on the trailer...
I gave myself an 1.5hrs to get hooked up, stuff in the trailer and Tesla on.
I have to say, I'm proud of myself - took 20min alone to get lined up and hooked up :)  For the first time, that aint' bad and I now I know the 'tricks' to making it easier next time.  And that is where my streak ended... I was dropping the nose down and found that the previous owner's truck bed sat higher than mine, so I couldn't get down far enough to release the support leg. AH!  I called my mentor and know how to fix it, but didn't have the tools on me to do so today. 

So I made some lemonade! Since I had a hours on end to enjoy with Tesla...I did :)
We did some loading on the new trailer, started out well, went downhill, ended well.  Still easier than my old trailer so no regrets there.
Then we went for a little hike together. I haven't ridden him alone outside the arena so I wanted to see how he'd do away from it all on foot and things were fairly uneventful :) We only went about 1.5 miles, but got to enjoy some sun and green grass.  We also spent some time grooming and then I just worked on the trailer getting it ready for No Frills at the end of the month.

Totally bummed I didn't get to ride today, but more days to come!

The "new" trailer :) I will get to sleep INSIDE this ride season!

Walking along :)